Susan G. Sterrett is the Curtis D. Gridley Distinguished Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science in the Department of Philosophy at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. She earned an undergraduate degree in engineering at Cornell University in 1977, after which she worked as an engineer for several years. She completed degrees in Mathematics (M.A.) and Philosophy (M.A., Ph.D.) at the University of Pittsburgh, completing her doctorate in December 1999, with a dissertation entitled How Beliefs Make A Difference. During graduate school, she also wrote and published Sounds Like Light: Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity and Mach's Work in Acoustics and Aerodynamics She then taught at Duke University. She was awarded a Woodrow Wilson National Foundation fellowship for work on Wittgenstein Flies A Kite: A Story of Models of Wings and Models of the World, published by Penguin in 2005. Other publications include articles on Darwin's use of analogy, on Wittgenstein and gramophone records, on Alan Turing and the philosophy of artificial intelligence, and on the use of models in science.

She spent a term at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh in Spring 2010, then taught at Carnegie Mellon University while finishing Three Views of Logic: Mathematics, Philosophy, Computer Science, co-authored with the computer scientist Donald W. Loveland and the mathematician Richard E. Hodel.


Collections in this community

Recent Submissions

  • Turing on the integration of human and machine intelligence 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Springer, 2016)
    Philosophical discussion of Alan Turing’s writings on intelligence has mostly revolved around a single point made in a paper published in the journal Mind in 1950. This is unfortunate, for Turing’s reflections on machine ...
  • Physically similar systems: A history of the concept 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Springer, 2017)
    The concept of similar systems arose in physics, and appears to have originated with Newton in the seventeenth century. This chapter provides a critical history of the concept of physically similar systems, the twentieth ...
  • Experimentation on analogue models 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (2015-05-31)
    Analogue models are actual physical setups used to model something else. They are especially useful when what we wish to investigate is difficult to observe or experiment upon due to size or distance in space or time: ...
  • Physical pictures: Engineering models circa 1914 and in Wittgenstein's "Tractatus" 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002)
    Today I want to talk about an element in the milieu in which Ludwig Wittgenstein conceived the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus that has not been recognized to date: the generalization of the methodology of experimental scale ...
  • How beliefs make a difference 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (University of Pittsburgh, 1999-11-15)
    How are beliefs efficacious? One answer is: via rational intentional action. But there are other ways that beliefs are efficacious. This dissertation examines these other ways, and sketches an answer to the question of how ...
  • Kinds of models 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (2003-03-20)
    In this paper, I survey a broad variety of models with an eye to asking what kind of model each is in the following sense: in virtue of what is each of them regarded as a model? It will be seen that when we classify models ...
  • Similarity and dimensional analysis 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Elsevier/North-Holland, 2009)
    The importance of similarity in comprehending things and reasoning about them was recognized before the time of Plato. Similarity continues to be important in philosophy, science, and technology to this day. The historical ...
  • Models of machines and models of phenomena 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Taylor & Francis, 2006-01)
    Experimental engineering models have been used both to model general phenomena, such as the onset of turbulence in fluid flow, and to predict the performance of machines of particular size and configuration in particular ...
  • Three views of logic: Mathematics, Philosophy, Computer Science 

    Loveland, Donald W.; Hodel, Richard E.; Sterrett, Susan G. (Princeton University Press, 2014)
    Demonstrating the different roles that logic plays in the disciplines of computer science, mathematics, and philosophy, this concise undergraduate textbook covers select topics from three different areas of logic: proof ...
  • Physical models and fundamental laws: Using one piece of the world to tell about another 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Springer-Verlag, 2002-03-01)
    In this paper I discuss the relationship between model, theories, and laws in the practice of experimental scale modeling. The methodology of experimental scale modeling, also known as physical similarity, differs ...
  • How many thoughts can fit in the form of a proposition? 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (2004--06-2)
    I argue here that Frege’s eventual view on the relation between sentences and the thoughts they express is that, ideally, a sentence expresses exactly one thought, and a thought is expressed by exactly one (canonical) ...
  • Frege and Hilbert on the Foundations of Geometry 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (1994-10-14)
  • Kites, models and logic: Susan Sterrett investigates models in Wittgenstein's world 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (, 2008)
    This is the text of Dr. Sterrett's replies to an interviewer's questions for, a website with interviews by academics on various authors, philosophers, and scientists.
  • Historical context and Philosophy of Science: a reply to Peter Simons' 'Coincidence and Kite-Flying' 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (2009-03-04)
    This essay responds to a review of my book "Wittgenstein Flies A Kite: A Story of Models of Wings and Models of the World" by Peter Simons that appears in the March 2009 issue of the journal Metascience. The revised version ...
  • Too many instincts: contrasting philosophical views on intelligence in humans and non-humans 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Taylor and Francis Ltd, 2002)
    This paper investigates the following proposal about machine intelligence: that behaviour in which a habitual response that would have been inappropriate in a certain unfamiliar situation is overridden and replaced by a ...
  • Nested algorithms and "the original imitation game test": a reply to James Moor 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002)
    In "The Status and Future of the Turing Test" (Moor, 2001), which appeared in an earlier issue of this journal, James Moor remarks on my paper "Turing's Two Tests for Intelligence." In my paper I had claimed that, whatever ...
  • Bringing up Turing's 'Child-Machine' 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Springer, Berlin, 2012)
    Turing wrote that the "guiding principle" of his investigation into the possibility of intelligent machinery was "The analogy [of machinery that might be made to show intelligent behavior] with the human brain." [10] In ...
  • Turing's two tests for intelligence 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000)
    On a literal reading of 'Computing Machinery and Intelligence', Alan Turing presented not one, but two, practical tests to replace the question 'Can machines think?' He presented them as equivalent. I show here that the ...
  • Wittgenstein flies a kite: a story of models of wings and models of the world 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (Pi Press, 2005-11-16)
    The philosophy of language and experimental research in aeronautics made great leaps at about the same time in the early twentieth century. Strange as it may sound, this was no coincidence. Sterrett explains what Wittgenstein ...
  • Physical pictures: Engineering models circa 1914 and in Wittgenstein's "Tractatus" 

    Sterrett, Susan G. (2000-07-17)
    In 1914, Wittgenstein recorded an incident in his Notebooks that he later mentioned to several friends as occasioning a major insight for his views in the Tractatus that propositions represent by being pictures. The entry ...

View more